Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Madness -- The Final Foursome

It's the last day of November and this MAY be the last foursome of the season. It was about 40 degrees with a light wind when these hearties putted out on No. 14 Stonebrooke today. They were quite ebullient, and some joked they didn't want their identities known to their bosses. C'mon. What boss would believe you're golfing on Nov. 30 in Minnesota?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An omen?

Poop, poopie dew
A flock of angry birds bombed Kathleen's shiny new V-dub during the very first errand of its young life this morning, scoring several direct hits. They splattered the windshield, the hood and the roof of the yellow Beetle 12, showing total disregard for it and the dignity of its new owner.
Peering between windshield blotches, she navigated home. There her husband offered comfort and a complete windexing, bringing the condition of the bug to "like new," before the neighbors get their first looks at our baby.
Heard of Elvis, not Anka
It was not the first indiginity Kathleen suffered in the new car. Kathleen has a relative whose name happens to be Tex Ritter. Last night our young car salesman/geek was busy downloading Kathleen's personal phone directory into the new car when "Tex Ritter" scrolled by on the navigation screen.
"Do you believe that I know a person by the name of Tex Ritter," she asked Jared with a twinkle.
She drew a blank look and silence from the youngster.
"You know, he was a cowboy, a country western singer," Stan prompted.
"No, I've never heard of him," Jared said, still wishing to please. "Do you know him?"
"No. We don't know HIM. HE's dead. . . Never mind," Stan concluded, head shaking, as we went on to something else we clearly were going to be too old to readily understand.
Wider and longer, it's harder to park.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not your Mother's Volkswagen

Our trade-in, on the right, is smaller, rounder and low tech.
The new Beetle 12 is faster, wider, smoother, smarter and it's now Kathleen's. This is her fourth Beetle, she's had orange, yellow, blue and now yellow again. But it's not the same yellow. Very little is the same, actually, and that's why Stan is happy to be driving this incarnation to the Coast for the winter. VWs have more headroom than any other sedan we know. Stan's choices are limited. The VW is fine. VW intentionally "manned-up" this traditionally ladies car. Took out the flower vase, gave it a gangster look, widened it, softened the ride, made it very quiet and added a Fender speaker system and navigation and bluetooth. And the coupe looks real good too, don't you think?
Jared and the proud owner.
So we're excited, got the keys tonight from the best salesman yet, Jared Frantz at Burnsville Volkswagen, who promises to faithfully help us learn all the bells and whistles. He already installed our phone directories.
Thankfully our closer, Jacque, was no William H. Macy from Fargo. We cautiously went into the little room with her and got the very same deal we had planned on getting. (Note to Randy -- we didn't spring for the Tru-Coat)
Closing today also earned us a $500 Black Friday gift card and the pride that we are doing our best to move this economy forward.
No high pressure here, Jacque did a nice job for us. Katie got her gift cards.

Dad would have loved Cyber Monday

As the author of 30-some books, Erling Rolfsrud would have loved cyber Monday. He died in 1994, long before the Internet became a marketing force in book sales. It would have been especially effective for a rural author without big city connections.
Early on, Dad adopted a computer for capturing keystrokes for typesetting, but that is as far as it went. Most of Dad's books are now out of print, but there are still a few titles left. He'd be proud to know they're available on the internet.
The exclusive dealer for Rolfsrud books is now Suzann Nelson and Dad would be cheered to know the name of her web site is "Rural Route Bookstore." We don't know what kind of inventory remains, she has sole rights to it and Rolfsrud heirs are pleased she is managing the books.
Click here to go to her Rural Route Bookstore website. 
Look on her home page for a line that says "Find Rolfsrud books here."
Example from the site:
---------------------
Stone Johnny School    by Erling Rolfsrud  (North Dakota)    
In a delightful homespun way Erling Rolfsrud relates his experiences as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse on the prairie of North Dakota, including teaching the beautiful 'Palmer Penmanship Method' to students whose hands were more at home with a gopher trap or pitchfork.

R 1- 05    $8.95
Order by using the 'Place an Order' form or you may order by phone (800 494-9124).  For payment and shipping charges, see 'Place an Order.'
---------------
So there's your Cyber Monday Christmas Gift idea. If you'd just like to HEAR Erling Rolfsrud reading a passage or two out of his "Gopher Tails for Papa," click here.
Often the most exciting part of Dad's day was when the rural carrier
made his 10 a.m. delivery. He might be bringing book orders. . . or a check.
These little decorated mailboxes are from Suzann's website. Dad owned a
supersize mailbox, befitting his optimism and hopes. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's not just Rick Perry, you know

Stan got a note from Old Friend Karl in Seattle today. He saw our post about the forgotten Thanksgiving Dinner cranberries.

Karl writes:
The same thing happened at our house. While we were cleaning up after a dinner for five, we found the cranberry dish on the counter – untouched!!
Stan:
Yes, at our age we need to write a list.
Karl:
Sue says she HAD a list!

Must have forgotten to read it.
Karl took a ribbing from his wife, Sue, in this file photo from July, 2009.
Karen and Katie enjoyed the moment.

(Kaia is the one who isn't mugging.)

Here's da Nephew Ford, Kaia and Jennifer family, making a self-portrait
for their blog (see below). What was Kaia most grateful for? Read the
surprising answer on their blog.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Year of the forgotten cranberries

Eldora (in the background) has been decimated. . . but the dual
cranberry relish dishes are pristine.  Oh well.
Once upon a time long ago, someone's casserole vegetable dish, intended for Thanksgiving dinner, never made it, abandoned for the duration in the oven, discovered there while the dishes were being washed. Another year, Kathleen put fresh dinner rolls into a warming bag and they were never served. Then there was the time that Aunt Mary Lou lovingly prepared an orange jello salad and then forgot to bring it with her when she drove out for dinner. Those were all Thanksgivings past.
2011 was the year for the Cranberry sauce, we went double,  got nothing.
Kathleen found a favorite cranberry/orange relish at Cub and brought it home this week. This morning, Jennifer arrived here with, among other things, a specially-prepared family recipe from Aunt Mary Lou featuring cranberries enhanced with oranges, sugar and rum.
These special Thanksgiving cranberry preparations were tucked safely, side by side, into the refrigerator. And that's exactly where they stayed for our entire Thanksgiving Dinner.
Tradition!
We had a laugh, enjoyed our desserts and got this family Thanksgiving picture, another tradition.
Meanwhile, Stan's sister Linda reports a lovely Thanksgiving with Mom in Alexandria, while Virg shared a fun table with Al and Becky in Florida along with some fabulous weather.
Thanksgiving 2011 - The Year of the Cranberry

Eldora's getting there. . .

The turkey is close. Aunt Sosie is on the phone from California. Jennifer brought Uncle Dan and a bag of goodies. Garrison Keillor says that on Thanksgiving, "you just let the vegetarians fend for themselves. . .just go outside, there's bushes and grass to forage."
Beautiful salad. . .
topped with alfalfa

Our vegetarian did much better than that, bringing an assortment of roasted root vegetables, salad fixin's and baked pecan yams. Yum. No tofurkey here, no sir.

Turkey greetings from Oregon

Danny Martin checks in this morning from the Oregon coast, his first Thanksgiving at his new home. Dan used to run the WatersEdge golf course near here in Minnesota and he would be pleased to know that today golfers are streaming past, celebrating Turkey Day with 18 holes. High of 60 today and lots of sun. One of these years we'll have golf for Christmas.
Danny writes:
Hi there....Happy Thanksgiving to you both.....Hope your day is lovely !!! I am going to Mary's daughter's house and her mate's for dinner today...It has been raining here for the last week...Steelhead fishing will be getting very good now with the rain and a bit of a rise in the water....have a great day....Ta ta      
Danny
Danny Martin and friends

Eldora's now stuffed, laced and in the oven by 8:30 a.m.

Back in the 80s and early 90s when we often had 30 to 40 guests over for Thanksgiving Dinner, Kathleen would choose a huge bird (always a Jennie-O) to feed the throng. That meant she got up at 5 a.m. to get the turkey prepared and into the oven by 7.
Eldora will look much better
several hours from now.
After she'd concocted her dressing and closed the bird, she'd slip back into bed for a little snooze and Stan would then awaken to the distinct aroma of sage and fresh onion drifting from his mate's side.
Our bird is much smaller now and we get up later, but the smell of the dressing mix still brings fond memories of early Thanksgiving mornings.
Record warmth for Thanksgiving Day today, hope you have record warmth around your table where ever you are.
Happy Thanksgiving from Stan and Kathleen

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remember Alan Norling? His Dad died.

Former Lake Andrew resident Jim Norling died. His son, Alan, was Stan's first grade classmate at District 24 country school in rural Alexandria back in the 50s. During winters, some Rolfsrud kids would walk across the lake to the Norling home to watch Pinky Lee on one of the only televisions in the township. Before his passing, Jim Norling attended the District 24 Reunion organized by Stan, Lorlee, Sosie and others this summer and featured on this blog. We found these photos in Stan's reunion file. Lorlee sent the obituary from the Echo.
The late Jim Norling chatted with a friend this summer at the
District 24 All-School reunion. His brother, Enfred,
who also attended, preceded him in death this fall.
Roland “Jim” James Norling, 87, died November 10, 2011 at Sanford Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota.
As a young man, Jim worked on the family farm and began driving a milk truck at the age of 15. When he was 20 years old, he enlisted in the United States Navy and spent the greater part of his Navy career at Pearl Harbor.
On December 11, 1946, Jim was united in marriage to JoAnne Johnson at the Congregational Church in Alexandria. The couple lived in Alexandria and raised their family of five children in Alexandria. Jim spent most of his working career as a gas transportation driver for Midland Co-op and eventually for Land O’ Lakes. In all, he spent more than 40 years as a truck driver. The last five years he spent driving for Douglas County and retired in 1989.
Jim was an avid sportsman and enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping on Lake Mina. He was a humble man who was extremely loyal with a strong work ethic. He was very proud of his Naval service and was also devoted to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife, JoAnne Norling of Alexandria; children, Alan (Cynthia) Norling of Alexandria, DiAnne (Mike) Loch of Alexandria, Kurtis (Suzanne) Norling of Alexandria, Lea (Renee) Norling of Alexandria and Brad (Gayle) Norling of Forest Lake. Also surviving are 15 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one to be born; a sister, R’Dene (Robert) Everett of New Brighton, and John Swanson and wife Jan of Inver Grove Heights.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and brothers, Enfred “Shorty” Norling and Worrell (Norma) Norling.
Funeral services were held Monday, November 14 from First Congregational United Church of Christ in Alexandria with the Rev. Scott Keehn officiating. Music was provided by Diane Alveshere, organist, and Jennifer Maloney, soloist. Interment was at Lake Mary Cemetery in Alexandria with David Norling, Brian Loch, Mitchell Loch, Lance Norling, Ben Norling and Dale Craig serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers were Denene Norling, Matthew Gustafson, Melanie Akeya, Alison Block, Sarah Craig, Leaonna Norling, Tracy Beck, Jamie Klimek, Megan Norling and Nick Norling.
Military honors were accorded by American Legion Post #87, VFW Post #936, and the Minnesota National Guard.
Arrangements are with Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria; www.andersonfuneral.net.
Funeral guestbook entry:
11/16/2011 8:47 PM
JoAnn and family - I'm so glad my brother Don and I got to come up to the District 24 all school reunion this summer, and were able to chat a bit with both Enfred and Jim. The Hiebel family farm was only a mile or so away from the Norling homestead, and I remember the family fondly. My mother ( Anne) was in the "longest running birthday club" and always thought so highly of all the members and of you and Percy. My prayers are with you. KEN HIEBEL
The late Enfred Norling chatted with Lee Zarbok this summer at
the District 24 reunion. Mr. Norling died this fall, preceding his brother.

Monday, November 21, 2011

If you must know, I made it in kindergarten. . .

Emily continues: "Hey, it's not just hats and balloons in my all-day kindergarten you know. Yes, we made these crowns, but we also do lots of take-away. How much is five take-away three? Two. See? And we add. And we read too. 'Go, Dog, Go.' And this week we don't have school because of Thanksgiving so Grandma and Grandpa came over today while Mom did some stuff. We went to Costco and ate free samples for lunch. The best was scalloped potatoes and ham. They were gone when Grandpa got there. Too bad! When we were checking out, I told Grandpa 'I have to go to the baño,' because I couldn't wait and he knew what I meant, so Grandma took me to the baño (I'm learning Spanish now too) and I peed while he paid."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When you gotta go, you gotta go out. . .

Moments after she made the first yellow snow of the season,
it disappeared in a whorl of white.

Photo shoot in Los Feliz

A photographer from a local magazine, Discover Hollywood, used Randy's LA home as a backdrop this week, shooting a period piece for the December issue. Randy's not sure what the feature is about, but it will probably reference some historic aspects of this storied neighborhood.
That's Dora in the Radio Flyer.
The cover article seems to be about the Walt Disney aspects of Los Feliz. He started his company in the neighborhood, and conceived "Mickey Mouse" in a garage a few blocks away. The female model seemed to be playing "Snow White" and she apparently is living with "Prince Charming" in Randy's house. We'll just wait for the magazine to see.
The long-haired dachshund "model," Dora, was amazing, Randy said. She does a lot of work in the industry, and always hits her "mark," according to the husband and wife dog wranglers, who own her. For two and a half hours, she never "complained," Randy said.
The magazine is distributed in the Los Feliz/Hollywood area of Los Angeles.
Looking closely at the photos, we think Dora resembles our Birdie... who certainly can't sit still for pictures. . . not that we haven't tried.
Birdie will soon run from time to time in Randy's backyard while we're staying in LA this winter. And none too soon either. Cold, wind, snow and darkness enshroud our house today as this is written.
Is this where Snow White and her prince live happily ever after?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Deer cam senses backyard visitor

Matt got suspicious that he may be getting some night time company near his Shakopee house so he set up his "truth cam", a handy-dandy motion-triggered digital camera. He mounted it on a tree by his deck and, sure enough, a nice-looking buck with a big rack came by for the photo op. Here are the print-outs. Matt is pointing to where the deer made his appearance.
How does the deer cam know the difference between Bambi and Rocky Raccoon? It doesn't. And Matt has the pix to prove it.
IN OTHER outdoors news, Wayne Kasich has returned from his deer shack near International Falls with a brief report that he has a deer but we'll have to wait for his pictures until he gets back from his trip to Florida to visit his daughter. Readers may recall seeing his deer shack in a previous post. He and his wife, Mary Ann, are going from that to South Beach for three weeks. Talk about readjustment.

Today's spam brought this. . .

The following note supposedly came from a good friend of mine, (I won't say who it is because he's probably embarrassed, poor guy) who apparently has had his email list hacked and some miscreant is hoping to scam his friends.

Hi
Hope you get this on time. I am writing you in a tensed mood and urgently require your kind aid soon. Yesterday I made an unannounced trip to London, United Kingdom for a program. Unfortunately for me, I got mugged at gun point last night on my way to the hotel where I booked. They went away with all I had including my wallet where I have all my cash and credit card and also my cell phone. I wasn't injured because I quickly complied.

My traveling documents are been apprehended by the hotel management because of my inability to settle bills. I am confused and so full of panic right now. For now, I do not have a phone where I can be reached. All I have got here is my mail. I also have limited access to the computer.Please I need you to kindly loan me about (1,480 Pounds) which is approximately $2,379 USD to sort-out my hotel bills and other expenses incurred here and get back home soon as I do not feel safe here any more. I Promise to reimburse immediately on my return. I will explain full details to you when I get back. Let me know if you can be of any help soon because you are the only person i can reach at this moment and the next flight back home departs in about 2 days. Hope I can count on you.

Regards
------------------
Everything in the email looks totally authentic, including his usual signature block giving his home phone, etc. The only give-a-way is a very slight modification to his email address. If you hit reply it goes to firstname.lastname@aol.com, not firstnamelastname@aol.com which is his true address. Inserting that dot makes all the difference. Bastards.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The crape myrtle has turned . . .

The new crape myrtle on Randy's front lawn in LA suddenly turned a brilliant orange-red, prompting a note from the owner. It'll no doubt be just a stick tree by the time we get there in January. Randy's been getting great reviews from the neighborhood on his front yard makeover, and last week a local magazine, Discover Hollywood, dropped by to ask if they could use the house as a backdrop in their Christmas edition. Photo shoot there tomorrow. Great fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Laurie's back from China. . .

And Kathleen got a string of natural pearls!
Laurie negotiates well and she bargained her way around numerous Chinese shops during her recent 12-day visit to the other side of the world. She returned with a nice array of goods.
Today we joined her for lunch at Mazopiya, a wonderful natural food market and salad bar very near here. She had plenty of stories and a grab bag of goodies to share.
Stan got a baseball cap, direct from The Great Wall; Kathleen got a beautiful string of natural pearls (you can tell they're real, they're irregular), and then there was the tin of authentic Chinese tea and the wrapped candies, including chocolates from that ancient Chinese chocolatier, Cadbury and Co. Laurie bargained for all of it, paying cash on the spot. Says she got a lot of her Christmas shopping done as well. And why not? Most of our Christmas gifts are made in China anyway.
She flew American from Chicago, non-stop across the North Pole, it took 15 hours. Brutal.
We enjoyed hearing her observations and not once during lunch did she mention eating anything in China that still had its head on it.
Her accommodations were top notch, she said, and she always felt safe and welcomed.
We'll flip through her trip photos at another time, perhaps during a break at the upcoming poker night at St. Paul Katie's.
Readers will remember Laurie as a long-time family friend and frequent dog-sitter. Birdie missed out on today's visit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like. . .

At 5 a.m. tomorrow, this homemade trailer will rumble northward to rural Hinckley for its annual load of fresh-cut Christmas trees. When our friend Matt Drees built this custom tree hauler a couple of decades ago, he had no way of knowing that Drees Trees would become such a popular local holiday tradition for so many in his hometown.
MATT DREES
For some, it's just not Christmas
until they've seen this man
.
Customers have stood by him for all those years, and he has stood by them; upon request, he'll even "flock" your tree, a treatment that went out of style years ago, but hangs on with some traditionalists who love that retro look.
This year's crop will arrive back at his little Shakopee farm near here sometime tomorrow afternoon, and soon thereafter eager customers will begin carefully picking and choosing "the perfect tree," in a timeless sorting ritual that brings Christmas nostalgia to so many. From dawn 'til after dark, Matt will mingle among them, greet old friends, hold up trees, and take care of business.
Matt often wonders aloud how many more years he'll be doing this; he's comfortably retired and has plenty of easier things he could do instead. But we suspect he enjoys this Christmas tree fol-de-rol just as much as do his loyal patrons, who count on him to play his patient role in the annual pageant.

The Last Waltz?

In what may be the final decent golfing day of the season, (55 and sunny - some wind, note the snap in the flag) two senior golfers finished No. 18 at Creeks Bend in New Prague around noon today. Forecasts say it may snow tonight and it will get chillier no matter what, so linksters gratefully took their swings, realizing they may now have to head south to continue their avocation. The photographer took this picture before finishing out his day with a nifty par, a good omen, he felt, as he loaded the bags into the car with a mixture of gratitude and sadness.
Golf course operators, who had a slow start this spring, appreciate the extra rounds and revenue that late fall has produced.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Busted. . . how many times?

Ou kindergartener is growing up fast. At 52 pounds, she's a blur of motion and information.
Tonight she came over with her mother for dinner and we were able to interrogate her about The Bus Incident. There are rules to remember about keeping our seats when riding the school bus. This apparently becomes difficult to remember when things get exciting. So far, three times, she forgot. Just trying to get her girlfriends in a different seat to laugh, she explains. Busted and written up, she has now been assigned to sit with a Big Girl with a better memory. Hard time.
Those luxurious French braids were done up by her mother's friend and met with everyone's approval at the table tonight.
Emily ate all her vegetables and, yes, she even stayed in her seat.

Happy Birthday, Becky

Take a break from the bathroom remodel and enjoy your day! Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Belle Boa and friend, Zach

Stan's sister Sosie is on holiday with family members and has returned to beautiful Belize for an extended stay. While there, she read about our globe-trotting friend Alim and his heartbreak at seeing and hearing stories of the abused exotic animals at a shelter in Calli, Columbia.
Sosie sends this photo of her son, Zach, and a report on the zoo she enjoys in Belize:
Sosie writes:
Kindness to animals is an issue in Belize too. Zach is holding Belle Boa, a pink boa constrictor that was badly kept as a pet and then rescued and is cared for at the Belize Zoo. 
She has grown 6 of her 10 feet.
The Belize Zoo has native animals only, and they have all been rescued. Here they are in their well-maintained natural environment with regular food and vet care. Due to their condition and experience, they will remain here at the zoo. It provides the very best zoo experience we've ever had because all the animals were exotic to us and not shy around people. The place was so calm and peaceful that people strolled slowly and spoke quietly.
I hope your friend finds this place in his travels.

Edible Twin Cities



Mark Weber, the publisher of Edible Twin Cities, looked over the new winter edition yesterday during a visit from his former boss, who knows virtually nothing about local cooking, uncommon dining or the preparation of good food. Stan was simply a community newspaper publisher during his tenure at Southwest Newspapers, but since his retirement, the operation has expanded into areas way beyond his ken, leaving him gazing in open-mouthed wonderment.
Published seasonally, it says. 
Aren't we getting a bit relaxed here, folks?
So what's Edible Twin Cities? The web site says: We're a seasonal food magazine that celebrates the local farmers, chefs, home cooks, food artisans and businesses that help build our local food community and make the Twin Cities such a great place to live.
Okay.
The actual purpose of Stan's visit yesterday was to obtain the free services of a notary public, one of the practical benefits of retaining his title "Publisher emeritus." This was handled with dispatch in the adjacent business office. We'll enjoy lunch with the kind notary on Tuesday.
The foodie publication is a beautiful piece, brimming with articles and photographs and advice about local things to eat.
An excerpt:
"The owner of  Dandelion Kitchen wrapped a slice of his maple bacon around a piece of Canfield's chocolate biscotti and the result was 'Wow!' Canfield is now pondering the possibility of 'biscotti on a stick.'"
Edible Twin Cities is printed about a half dozen times a year and appears periodically on newsstands throughout the Twin Cities area. Pick one up, you'll enjoy it, as we did.
These kids nowadays. What'll they think of next?
Found Hai Dang at his post. Hard at it, as always.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Maxwell's groupies

Joe, Jen, Hoi, Stan, Max, Katie, Marcy. (Missy and Emily? It's a school night.)
100 voices led by Nathan Knoll.
The Southwest High Fall Choral Concert drew a nice crowd tonight, among them this group of fans to see Maxwell join the Southwest Singers in four well done selections. Our group agreed it was a wonderful performance, the result of diligent practice and good musical leadership. Maxwell sings baritone. Next performance is the Holiday Concert at the Basilica of St. Mary on Dec. 12. We'll be there!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Now we know. . .

John, our genial host for the Ten Dollar T-bone Night at Little Six casino, hails from Palm Desert, California. So we asked him: "How come they have a sign on the date groves there that say you enter the grove at your own risk?"
When last we visited his hometown, we took a picture of what we considered an unusual sign (above).
John explained: "Dates grow in big hard clumps and they can bonk you a good one on the noggin when they come down."
So now we know. Here we always thought of dates as soft and squishy as in Kathleen's date cookie filling.

Malaysian heartbroken in Columbia

Alim, Kathleen, Stan -- file photo
Alim in front of Petronis Towers in
his hometown. This morning, Today's Matt
 Lauer appeared in the bridge seen over
 Alim's head in this photo.
NBC's Today Show "Where in the World is Matt Lauer" came from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this morning, showcasing this Asian Fusion Nation. It's a lovely, interesting country and worthy of the spotlight. Made us think immediately of Paduka Alim, our Malaysian house guest.

Then, totally by coincidence, an email arrived in our inbox from Alim himself, who stayed with us for three days this July during his around the world adventure that will end in his Malay hometown next year.
Alim had told us all about "stinky fruit," the same Malaysian staple that today Lauer termed a cross between "wild seal and sweat." The Today Show New York panel said they kind of liked the samples they were tasting. OK. Then the camera flipped back to Malaya, where Zen Master Ho jammed his nubby forefinger through a coconut shell to the amazement of the Today show audience. OK, just another breakthrough in International understanding.
Alim's note today wasn't about Malaysia. He's in Columbia now and sent us an email with the poignant subject line: "I leave Columbia with heart-breaking story that would lesson us all."
Alim's English isn't perfect, but during our brief time with him we discovered a gentle, sweet man whose compassion for others translated very well. And he loved Birdie right away.
We taught Alim
to swing a club.
Yesterday this gentle soul visited Villa Lorena, a shelter in Cali, Columbia, where abused animals from circuses and drug lords are cared for and rehabilitated. We've heard of abused circus animals many times before, but drug lords? Never really thought of it, but sure enough, cartels with more money than God acquire exotic animals from all over the world for their depraved amusement and the animals don't always do well.

Alim was crushed by what he saw at the shelter and expressed it in his best English:

There are eight ocelots rescued from cocaine lord ... Villa Lorena became 'Paradise' to hundreds of animals rescued from drug traffickers, paramilitary warlords, circus owner and animal smugglers. All the animals here have permanent disability due to cruelty and torture committed during a never-ending drug war in this country.

Dany, a Bengal tiger, worked under the direction of a paramilitary commander. Dany advocated and taught to devour the victim or the bodies of dead soldiers in combat. Dany was eventually rescued and trained to eat the flesh of animals successfully.

Other animals like lion males fed a mixed diet drug nakotik illegal by the owner and ocelots that blinded the eyes, cut off the feet as well as hundreds of abused animals here so flawed. Seeing the cruelty made me ashamed to become a human. How cruel race are we ...


Alim's email goes on about his sad day at the shelter. He was clearly heartbroken by the experience. Read this New York Times article to better understand what he's talking about.
Alim is continuing on his 18-month world journey before he reaches his Malay home. Next stop, fulfilling a job contract in Peru. He's seeing a lot of the world, the good, the bad and the ugly. 
Our best wishes to this gentle man and our gratitude to him for expanding our own world view. It's not all stinky fruit and coconut tricks.